The Central Marfa Historic District, an area of the Texas city with rich art historical significance, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.The district, centered on Highland Avenue, includes 183 buildings and architectural features, eleven of these buildings were preserved and repurposed by the minimalist artist. Donald Judd. Today, they are overseen by the Judd Foundation and the Chinati Foundation, which aim to preserve the legacy. This is the first time that Judd's architectural designs have been recognized at the federal level. O The National Register of Historic Places is a government-administered list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation. The historic district of Marfa has just joined places like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Wyoming.
Today, Marfa is a place of pilgrimage for members of the art world, due to the Chinati Foundation grounds, which house works by Judd, John Chamberlain and Dan Flavin, among others, and the exhibition spaces of Ballroom Marfa. The addition of Marfa to the registry explains the importance of the Judd buildings, but also the significance of the city's Hispanic heritage. From the end of the 19th century until the post-war period, Marfa served as a mercantile centre. Other sites include the Fort DA Russell military base, which was active until shortly after World War II, and the Blackwell School, which served as the only public educational institution for Mexican Americans in Marfa for over 50 years.
“Don had a profound regard and deep respect for the history and contributions of the Hispanic community that this nomination specifically recognizes,” Judd Foundation President Rainer Judd said in a statement. “He believed that these efforts, reflected in the built environment of the town, should be preserved and celebrated. This national honor for Marfa is important to understanding our shared past and preserving these buildings for future generations.” The 11 commercial buildings that Donald Judd acquired and adapted between 1973 and 1994 were originally built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The artist largely preserved its configurations and reused them for his own artistic production and that of other artists. Of the 11 buildings, the Chinati Foundation oversees three structures (the Chamberlain Building, Ice Plant and Locker Plant), while the Judd Foundation maintains eight (the Architecture Office, Architecture Studio, Art Studio, Cobb House, Gatehouse, Ranch Office, Print Building and Whyte Building). They are publicly accessible spaces where visitors can study Judd's art and architecture. The Marfa Central Historic District, recommended by the Texas Historical Commission in December 2021, was added to the National Register by the National Park Service last month.